Classic bits of evidence collected by police at a crime scene include the smoking gun, fingerprints and lipstick on a glass. However, today’s investigators often must search beyond the obvious for the missing piece that will solve the puzzle—like within a computer’s hard drive.
Forensic science specialists invited to the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently completed a guide for law enforcement officers titled Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders. The booklet provides investigators who regularly are the first to arrive at a crime scene (known as “first responders”) with an overview of what kinds of electronic evidence may be available to them in devices ranging from large computers to pagers.
When people began using computers to directly commit criminal offenses—such as online fraud and hacking—specialized police groups were trained to evaluate a crime scene and preserve electronic evidence. However, the ever increasing involvement of computers in other crimes (for example, a stalker sending harassing e-mails or an illegal business storing data in a spreadsheet program) means that this expertise no longer can be limited to select teams. Therefore, NIST’s Office of Law Enforcement Standards—with sponsorship by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice—produced the new electronic crime scene guide.
NIJ recently published the NIST guide in both ASCII and Adobe Acrobat downloadable formats at the following web address: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/187736.htm.
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